“Pic of the Week”. March 15, 2013. Remembering Sir Arthur C. Clarke.

2013-011-March  015

It was five years ago, on March 19, 2008, that we lost Arthur.   He had lived a full, highly productive and wonderfully interesting life — over ninety years on this planet he thought should have been called “Ocean”, instead of Earth (more appropriate, he opined, because our planet’s more than 70% covered by water).  Arthur had been my favorite writer since I read “2001: A Space Odyssey” decades ago, by far his best known work but just one of many great concepts his fertile mind envisioned.   Arthur’s the one who nicknamed me, “Dr. Fumblefinger” after a character by the same name in a short story he wrote (which was never published but which he shared with me — …

Read More

Karl on | 4 Comments
.All Trips / Asia / Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: A Land Like No Other (Part 12) The Beaches

Sri Lanka — 12) The Beaches

Sri Lanka is intimately tied to the sea.  As a tropical island, only a few degrees north latitude of the equator, there are dozens of lovely warm beaches by which you can relax.  Some like to swim, some like to scuba dive or snorkel, some enjoy sitting in a palm grove or lying on a towel and listening to the sound of the surf hitting a coral reef or washing up on white sand.   I love the sea but am not a “beach bum”.  I’d rather explore as much of a destination as possible than be sedentary.   But for those who want a leisurely vacation on a tropical beach, Sri Lanka is an excellent destination.  It’s home to a large number of beach hotels and many fancy resorts which are mostly …

Read More

Tagged , , , ,
.All Trips / Asia / Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: A Land Like No Other (Part 11) Yala Park

Sri Lanka —  11) Yala Park

Yala is the most visited National Park in Sri Lanka.  It’s remotely situated in the southeast corner of the country, a long day’s drive from Colombo, and covers almost 1000 square kilometers (378 sq mi).  Originally a hunting preserve, it was designated a wildlife sanctuary in 1900 and became one of the country’s first national parks in 1938.  Yala is known for its large variety of animals and is the best place in Sri Lanka to spot wildlife, especially herds of Sri Lankan elephants, but also deer, crocodile, boar, and aquatic birds; it has one of the highest densities of leopards in the world …

Read More

Tagged , , , ,
.All Trips / Asia / Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: A Land Like No Other (Part 10) Adam’s Peak

Sri Lanka —  10) Adam’s Peak

Adam’s Peak (also known as Sri Pada, or “holy footprint”) is located in the southwestern part of Hill Country.  It’s 2,243 meters (7,359 ft) high, the tallest mountain in this region and the fourth largest in Sri Lanka.  Because of its size and distinctive pyramidal top, Adam’s Peak stands out when one is traveling through the region; on a clear day it can be seen from the ocean.  The mountain is set in a region of wilderness so much of its vegetation and fauna are pristine.

I was first introduced to Adam’s Peak in Arthur C. Clarke’s book, THE FOUNTAINS OF PARADISE (which also features Sigiriya, hence the title).  In this story a mountain bearing an uncanny resemblance to Adam’s Peak is the earthbound terminus of Arthur’s …

Read More

Tagged , , , , ,
.All Trips / Asia / Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: A Land Like No Other (Part 9) Horton Plains

Sri Lanka —  9) Horton Plains

My first introduction to Horton Plains National Park was in Hans Mohemius’ photo room at his home in Colombo.  Hans was a skilled amateur photographer who shared with me a magical photo of a sunrise on Horton Plains, the setting misty and light softly diffused over frosted grass and trees.   I knew at that moment I had to visit this place so on my last trip to Sri Lanka I finally did.  As it turns out, Horton Plains is a great place to go for a hike — the best I personally encountered in Sri Lanka.  There are several hiking options in the Park but the most popular is the loop trail to “World’s End” which I’ll discuss below.

Horton Plains National Park is a high altitude plateau in the …

Read More

Tagged , , , , , ,
.All Trips / Asia / Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: A Land Like No Other (Part 8) Hill Country

Sri Lanka —  8) Hill Country

I grew up on the glaciated plains of central Canada, land as flat as a pancake, and vividly recall my first visit to the mountains as a child, that being a trip to the Banff.   I was fascinated by the Rockies, have loved mountains ever since and go out of my way to visit them whenever possible.

The coastal regions of Sri Lanka are fairly flat.  Given that and the relatively small size of the island, I was surprised to see what impressive peaks (over 2500 m high) are situated at its center.  These mountains, lush and green, are known as the Hill Country and a visit here is mandatory for anyone traveling to the island.  The temperature stays cool year round (people who live here actually own …

Read More

Tagged , , , , , , ,
.All Trips / Asia / Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: A Land Like No Other (Part 7) Kandy

Sri Lanka —  7) Kandy

The Sinhalese name for this city is Maha Nuvara (Senkadagalapura), impossible for the British to pronounce so they just called it Kandy.  Located in the forested foothills of the central mountains, about 1500 feet above sea level, Kandy is appealing to Sri Lankans as well as to visitors.  The weather is cooler and less humid than on the coast, especially at night.  Kandy is the second largest city in Sri Lanka and the gateway to the Hill Country and Cultural Triangle, so there’s lots to see and do.  It’s easily accessible by road and train from Colombo, offering scenic journeys through coconut and rubber plantations and rice paddies.   I’ve visited Kandy four times and enjoyed each visit.

Like Polonnaruwa …

Read More

Tagged , , , , , , ,
.All Trips / Asia / Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: A Land Like No Other (Part 6) Polonnaruwa

Sri Lanka —  6) Polonnaruwa

The eastern most point visited when touring Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle is Polonnaruwa.  The ruins in this ancient capitol are the best preserved and most varied in Ceylon and it’s well worth the effort to visit them.  The city’s historic sites can be visited in one day, although it gets quite hot in the afternoon so be sure to bring your water bottle.  Polonnaruwa is another UNESCO World Heritage site.

A Brief history of Polonnaruwa

King Aggabodhi IV (7th century) was the first Sri Lankan monarch who began to develop Polonnaruwa.  He built it as a “vacation residence” for royalty, an alternative to the historic royal home in Anuradhapura.  King …

Read More

Tagged , , , , ,